In the last 24 hours the Metropolitan Riveters have re-signed two crucial pieces from last year’s Isobel Cup Championship-winning roster. Yesterday, it was top line winger Miye D’Oench; today, it was Rebecca Russo.
“The Riveters have a special thing going where a lot of our teammates have returned season after season,” Russo shared in the league’s press release. “Throughout the last three years we continue to have over half of our team return, so yes, we can battle the others and will defend our title proudly for the upcoming season. We have amazing chemistry both on and off the ice and I look forward to getting back with the team in October. We have all worked really hard throughout the years and the past season winning the Isobel Cup was one for the books. I’m so excited to have most of the team back and we look forward to having Amanda Kessel return.”
Russo has good reason to be confident about her third NWHL season. The tireless BU alumna may have lost the Fastest Skater Competition at the 2018 All-Star Skills Competition, but her rate of production accelerated. Russo finished the year with nine goals and six primary assists in 16 games to finish fourth in the league in points. She was also one of four Riveters to register two or more points in the 2018 Isobel Cup Playoffs.
Although she didn’t skate on what was considered the Riveters top line last year, there’s little doubt that Russo is an elite winger. Her production at even strength and ability to get shots on net is exceptional. Last season Russo had 10 primary points at evens (including one empty net goal), which was nearly level with the 11 primary points she had at even strength in her 18 game rookie season in 2016-17. She has also yet to take a penalty in an NWHL game. Yes, you read that right. When Russo is on the ice, good things tend to happen for the Riveters.
The two-time NWHL All-Star is one of the league’s biggest personalities and most popular players. Last season Russo became the first professional women’s athlete to form a partnership with the MeiGray Group. That groundbreaking partnership, which allows fans to buy authentic game-used sticks, pucks, gloves, and helmets, will continue into the 2018-19 NWHL season.
“I attend the MeiGray Expo each year and it is so amazing to see the people that show up not only to take a look at NHL jerseys and memorabilia and see some NHL players, but they now come and support the NWHL. It is so exciting being able to share my story with hundreds of people and to educate them on who we are as athletes – women professional athletes who play in the NWHL. It is an exciting time right now where the game of men and women’s hockey is rapidly growing. I’m looking forward to another successful season with MeiGray.”
With Russo signed the Riveters now have three wingers who have had point-per-game seasons in the NWHL. That bodes well for a team that wants to remain the offensive powerhouse that it was last year. If Alexa Gruschow and Madison Packer both re-sign — which they are expected to — the Riveters’ top six forwards will be even better than they were last year.